British Airways logos are seen on tail fins at Heathrow Airport in west London
British Airways logos are seen on tail fins at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain, February 23, 2018. Reuters

The U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT) Wednesday imposed a $135,000 penalty on British Airways over a 2017 tarmac delay in which it failed to ensure the timely deplaning of passengers.

As part of a settlement, the airline, which is owned by IAG, agreed to cease and desist from future similar violations. USDOT said British Airways must pay $67,500 within 30 days and the rest within one year if the airline violates the order.

USDOT said the penalty stemmed from a December 2017 flight from Austin, Texas, to London that resulted in passengers being stuck on the tarmac in poor weather for more than four hours without getting a chance to exit.

British Airways did not immediately comment Wednesday. It told USDOT the delay was caused after the deicing truck ran out of fluid.

It said it did not believe the incident called for a USDOT enforcement action but "in the interest of resolving this proceeding" agreed to the settlement.

USDOT in January said it planned to seek higher penalties from airlines and others that broke consumer protection rules, saying they were necessary to deter future violations.

Under a 2011 rule, airlines are prohibited from allowing domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours and international flights for more than four hours at U.S. airports without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane.